Published: 16:44, 20 May 2022
| Updated: 17:03, 20 May 2022
A council has stepped in to provide a "common-sense" solution after furious families who erected bamboo to shield their homes from nosey bus users were threatened with court action and fines.
KMTV report on Dartford resident's anger after council orders removal of bamboo screens
Originally, large hoardings were in place but they've since been replaced with smaller 1.5 metre black railings.
Residents claimed their back gardens – which front a busy bus route along Temple Hill where services stop every 10 minutes – were being left constantly exposed.
Throughout the pandemic they said their yards were littered with rubbish, including discarded face mask, bags of dog mess, and on at least one occasion drugs.
Peeping passengers were also reported to be peering into homes and speaking inappropriately to small children who have nowhere else to play.
Residents had asked for railings to be modified in height and covered but after failing to get their demands met took matters into their own hands and erected bamboo screens and fence panels.
Dartford council ordered their instant removal and even slapped some neighbours with "anti-social behaviour" warnings and threatened to haul them before the courts if they persisted.
Jess Evans, 27, likened the level of exposure in her home to "living in the Big Brother house".
The mum-of-four said: "People are constantly talking to the children through the fence, even playing with them and passing their toys back through the fence. Cars are having to stop to stop running the kids over.
"We have had people staring into our houses to the point where I'm waving at them now because it's getting so annoying."
The tenant said all attempts by neighbours had also failed, adding: "One minute we are allowed, one minute we are not. We've been issued ASBOs, court orders just to keep our kids safe."
But now after repeat complaints, the council says a "common-sense" solution has been found.
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said: "In the case of railings we provided around our new council homes at Temple Hill, the solutions that families have used to secure their privacy are, technically, in need of planning permission which they don’t have but it seems to me that the common-sense thing to do is to find a solution that is allowable. That’s exactly what we have now done."
Cllr Kite says they will now offer to "install fences of an approved, attractive design" that secures the privacy of families and is also "appropriate to the quality and design of the building".
The Tory leader added: "Families are one-hundred percent entitled to feel secure in their homes and I think their views about feeling exposed by the openness to the nearby pavement and road are entirely reasonable.
"Our housing team are sympathetic to that and want to find a solution. The council will carry out the work as part of our ongoing maintenance of our new-builds at no cost to the householders.
"The solution will then conform with all the planning requirements and meet the needs of residents."
The block was officially opened in 2017 by Lord John Attlee, the grandson of former Prime Minister Clement Attlee. The post war leader had himself opened the wider Temple Hill estate in 1947.
Last year, one of the homes was shut down temporarily after tenants inside were reported to be causing an "unacceptable level of nuisance" to neighbours with anti-social behaviour and drug use going on inside.
Neighbours said they did not feel safe and the issues around privacy had added to their fears.